A feasibility study of a 2-week self-compassionate letter-writing intervention for nontreatment seeking individuals with typical and atypical anorexia nervosa.
About this resource
OBJECTIVE: Most individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) do not seek treatment and shame is a common barrier. This study sought to determine whether a brief intervention designed to foster self-compassion would reduce shame and increase treatment motivation among nontreatment seeking individuals with AN. METHOD: Forty nontreatment seeking females with AN (75%) and atypical AN were randomly assigned to 2 weeks of a daily self-compassionate letter-writing intervention or a waitlist control condition. All participants completed pre, mid, and post questionnaires, and were weighed pre and post. RESULTS: The intervention yielded respectable credibility ratings and compliance and retained 95% of participants. Compared to the control condition, it produced greater increases in self-compassion and greater decreases in shame and fears of self-compassion. BMI and readiness to get help for one's eating decreased in the control condition but did not change significantly in the intervention condition, though the motivation for treatment showed a trend toward increasing. Changes in eating pathology and readiness to get help for one's weight did not differ between conditions. DISCUSSION: Self-compassionate letter-writing may be an acceptable and feasible intervention for nontreatment seeking individuals with AN and might reduce certain barriers to help-seeking while improving psychological functioning.
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